Cyborg Unplug is a wireless anti-surveillance system for the home and workplace


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Seems very much aligned with the principles of the SAFEproject

Stop the Cyborgs Blog

CYBORG UNPLUG - PLUG TO UNPLUG

Cyborg Unplug is a wireless anti-surveillance system for the home and workplace. ‘Plug to Unplug’, it detects and kicks devices known to pose a risk to personal privacy from your local wireless network, breaking uploads and streams. Detected devices currently include: Google Glass, Dropcam, small drones/copters, wireless ‘spy’ microphones and various other network-dependent surveillance devices.

Cyborg Unplug comes hot on the heels of glasshole.sh, a script written by Julian Oliver to detect and disconnect Google’s Glass device from a locally owned and administered network. Following broad coverage in the press, the script struck a chord with countless people all over the world that felt either frustrated or threatened by the growing use and abuse of covert, camera-enabled computer technology.

Whether business office, restaurant, school or nightclub: it’s your territory and your rules, so make it harder for those that seek to abuse it.

Cyborg Unplug is developed in shared spirit with the Stop The Cyborgs campaign, whose Google Glass ban signs have become popular among restauranteurs, cafe and club owners in the United States.

Cyborg Unplug will be available for pre-order September 30, 2014. Subscribe to ensure you are kept up-to-date with the launch and to receive other low-volume information about the project.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Every wireless (WiFi) device has a unique hardware signature assigned to it by the manufacturer. These signatures are broadcasted by wireless devices as they probe for, connect to and use wireless networks.

Cyborg Unplug sniffs the air for these signatures, looking for devices its owner has selected to ban. If a banned device is discovered an alarm is triggered (LED, audio or message*). Further, if that device is found to be connected to a network that Cyborg Unplug is trained to guard, a stream of special ‘de-authentication’ signals (packets) are sent to disconnect it. It does this automatically, without any interaction required from its owner.

  • Due to technical limitations, alarm features may be restricted to the high-priced model.

IS THIS LEGAL?

It is perfectly legal to block certain devices from using a network you control and administer. Some wireless routers allow an administrator to create blacklists, although generally they are limited to specific devices rather than an entire product. Cyborg Unplug is just as legal, differing only in that it takes a ‘direct action’ approach to wireless defense: a detect-and-disconnect routine, alarm system and an automatically updated list of devices able to be banned. Please see CAN IT BE USED TO DISCONNECT DEVICES FROM ANY NETWORK? below for more information.

IS THIS A JAMMER?

No, not in any stretch of the word. A jammer disrupts all signal within a given (radio) band by flooding it with noise. Cyborg Unplug does not do this. Rather, it detects and targets a specific device and disconnects (only) it in turn by sending the same, legal, de-authentication packets a router sends when it disconnects a device.

HOW DOES CYBORG UNPLUG STOP SPIES AND VOYEURS TAKING PHOTOS AND AUDIO/VIDEO?

It doesn’t and it can’t. It only stops them streaming what they record to a device or service on the Internet (Skype running on a laptop or a cloud service). This is the case for many wireless devices used for surveillance; streaming to the Internet allows for remote backups and surveillance while ensuring the offending device contains no evidence of the abuse.

WHY NOT JUST PASSWORD PROTECT MY WIFI?

Cyborg Unplug isn’t designed for use in those cases where there is already strict control over who uses the local wireless network. Rather, it’s for those with networks used by many people (school, office, library, bar, cafe) that either give out the password or provide an open network. Wireless devices used to spy and stream images/video/audio/data to the Internet using that network (Territory Mode) or via any network (All Out Mode, which includes tethered connections to phones) will be detected. An alarm is then signalled and the detected device is disconnected by Cyborg Unplug.

Please note that no encryption of any kind is a hindrance to the detection and disconnection of wireless (WiFi and Bluetooth) devices by Cyborg Unplug: it operates at a level below the IP network (specifically at Layer 2 of the OSI stack).

HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?

Two models will be initially available, priced by functionality. Both will be priced between $50 and $100.

WHAT ABOUT DEVICE UPDATES?

If your Cyborg Unplug is connected to the Internet (via an Ethernet cable to your router) it will anonymously (using Tor) and securely download lists of wireless devices known to be used to threaten your privacy soon after they hit the market. This means that as detectable hardware addresses change, Cyborg Unplug will be made aware of them.

CAN IT BE USED TO DISCONNECT DEVICES FROM ANY NETWORK?

In short yes. But be sure to read on to understand the implications…

Cyborg Unplug can be operated in two modes. The recommended mode is Territory Mode, disconnecting target devices from selected network(s) owned and operated by the user. The other mode is All Out Mode, which disconnects all detected target devices from any network they are associated with, including paired connections with smartphones. Please note that this latter mode may not be legal within your jurisdiction. We take no responsibility for the trouble you get yourself into if you choose to deploy your Cyborg Unplug in this mode.

WHAT IF I WANT TO ALLOW GOOGLE GLASS BUT BLOCK A WIRELESS MICROPHONE?

Devices to be blocked are selected during the three screen set up phase: just select the devices you want to block and leave those you don’t.

WOULDN’T CHANGING THE HARDWARE ADDRESS GET PAST THE CYBORG UNPLUG?

Yes it would. For this to happen however the device used for spying would have to be ‘rooted’ or running alternative firmware. This is not only often very difficult (in some cases practically impossible on tiny embedded devices), it’s also something hardware manufacturers generally discourage, voiding warranty. As such we consider altered hardware addresses to be a fringe case.

WHAT ABOUT DATA CONNECTIONS ON A GLASS TETHERED WITH BLUETOOTH?

We’re currently looking into sniffing and breaking Bluetooth connections with the same degree of accuracy as connections using WiFi. This would be made possible on Cyborg Unplug with the purchase of an additional Bluetooth USB dongle.

WHERE WILL YOU SHIP?

We’ll ship to the EU, UK and US initially. We’ll update you about other locations shortly. Please note we only have options for EU, UK and US plug fixtures.

IS THIS AN OPEN SOURCE PROJECT?

Yes indeed. Free and Open Source. The code will be made available under the GNU General Public License. A firmware download will also be made available such that the more intrepid person can flash it onto a select range of compatible hardware targets.